Warning: Low limits on card usage


Quick heads-up in case you run in to this: I’ve been a good boy and used Starling’s Savings Pots to save money throughout the year for my ISA.

I tried to fund my Halifax ISA Share Dealing account today, and my card kept being declined.

It seems as though you can’t deposit more than £1k using your Starling card, but you can do seven transactions at £1k each.

It seems bonkers that I can’t spend the money in my account easily, but it is especially crazy that a £5k transaction is declined but 7 x £1k transactions in a minute are approved.

Starling say this is totally out of their hands and is something Mastercard have imposed on them. Hopefully as Starling become bigger Mastercard will let them have the same limits that banks like Santander and YBS have, which let 20k transactions go through.

Hopefully I can spend some more of my money tomorrow, before the end of the tax year. Like elections in Chicago, pay early and often!


Do these limits apply for business users? I’ve just opened a business account and this limitation would be a definite blocker for me.


Who at Starling told you about the card limits being set by MC? I could have sworn I have seen @sarah.guha say they had set spend limits and not MC.

Would also be interested in business accounts are subject to the same spend limits…


I got hit by a similar issue last year which nearly resulted in 4 people not having a ferry crossing to Spain. I’d paid the deposit using Starling and Brittany automatically attempted to debit the remainder on the due date, which got declined for “security reasons”.

Unfortunately the Starling instant notifications don’t tell you about declined transactions, but Brittany contacted me to let me know they were cancelling my booking and gave me a chance to resolve the issue.

Starling CS said there was nothing they could do and to pay manually using another bank’s card.

Luckily I didn’t do a full switch and still had my legacy any account, so the disaster was averted.


This sounds a bit worrying!


@StarlingSupport If someone could please take a look at this and clarify. Thanks.


Hi @Nicholas ,

We’re going to look into the attempts you made today and get back to you via the app with an update as soon as we can.

However I also wanted to address in this forum regarding our limits that are in place to protect account holders such as yourself, as we worked with MasterCard to incorporate sets of limits that are in place to protect Starling account holders.

These limits can incorporate rules that are triggered by Account transaction volume and frequency; potential fraud rules and also merchant rules.

These limits are reviewed periodically, though it is not a simple matter to change these limits. However if you ever encounter these limits, on a case by case basis we can look into the possibilities to help facilitate any high value payments that are hitting our limits.

I hope this helps clarify the matter, but we’re happy for you to share any feedback or your experience which we will take into account on our next review.


I’ve had this happen before multiple times and honestly it’s a crock of shit. If it’s fraud prevention related simply decline the first attempt, send a push notification and allow us to approve the transaction to go through the next time it’s attempted. No one has been able to tell me what the limit is either which doesn’t help…


That wasn’t my experience last year. CS simply said “it’s MasterCard fraud prevention. Nothing we can do, use another card”. There was no offer of investigation or any sort of help at all.

The legacy bank experience is much better. Once they declined the payment I get a text asking if it was me. I simply reply yes and the matter is sorted.


I had the same experience - sorry there is nothing we can do… Very poor. Discourages me from holding a larger balence in my Starling account…


Yep. I’m using my legacy bank for any reasonably high value transactions, or those with a time limit where I need absolute confidence they’ll succeed. It’s making me wonder whether I should just move everything back to my legacy account.

Whilst I love some of the Starling things I shouldn’t have to maintain a backup account. I’ve never had to do that in the last 25 years, so why should I have to do it now given Starling are supposed to be a modern bank that makes life easier?


Thing is, we’re in this at an early stage with a bank that’s being built for scratch. Makes a load of sense to hang on to a backup bank for the time being whilst wrinkles are ironed out.

The important thing for me is that Starling respond rapidly to the issue and its consequences.


@Robin I understand that there can be rules set for fraud prevention but I believe there should be a way to do it even on an adhoc basis as there can always be normal situations where a customer needs to spend more than 1000 GBP on a single transaction - like flight tickets, deposit for a car, visa applications etc just to name a few . I am not sure how a customer can make Starling card as the primary account if it doesn’t meet regular situations i can encounter.I did not know about this limit previously so it is good to know that is the case as I can make sure to carry a different card as a backup . But a permanent solution to this should be really thought about this (even something as a configuration in app to temporarily increase the limit for a few days can be a good compromise)


We’re in early stage can only wash for so long. Spending money from my account without issue cannot be a more basic function of a bank. Don’t get me wrong I think Starling has a lot of positives however if it can’t iron out these kind of issues in core functionality pretty quickly then another challenger will tempt customers away. As I said before this issues is preventing me from holding a greater balence in my account and makes me question whether Starling is more of a gimic than a real challenge to the traditional banks.


I like Starling but its restrictions in the year 2018 are not really justifiable, for example my holiday cost £4500 I didn’t even bother trying with Starling as I know from reading this forum it wouldn’t work.

Now the whole its Mastercard and not us, isn’t really a great argument, newer banks don’t have the same restrictions because they chose not to impose them. I could list most of the newer banks and their limits and nearly all are higher than Starling, and most use Mastercard.

I personally don’t want to have to contact my bank before I want to book a holiday.

Since the account was launched people have mentioned about the problem with Starling limits and despite numerous comments about it, nothing has been done to address this.

Unless Starling are only going to appeal to the members of society that don’t ever spend more than a few hundred, the account isn’t really ready to be branded as a bank for all.

Other than things like that, I don’t mind Starling


Low limits on Starling card usage are unacceptable to me. I wasn’t aware of this when I opened an account with Starling and makes the bank pretty useless as a main account.

Come on Starling. The excuse of ‘protecting account holders’ is a con. The customer is usually protected against fraudulent transactions, liability falling on the banking institution. So this is purely for Starling’s benefit, not some altruistic gesture on behalf of their customers.

And with real time transaction notifications, and in app security features, Starling customers are actually better placed to prevent and detect any unauthorised transactions. It’s sadly ironic that the legacy banks, even without real time notifications and the advantages of Starling’s security advantages, do so much better.


Indeed, this is a low risk transaction as Halifax Share Dealing (like most of these ISA accounts) have some way of validating card details against bank accounts, and only let you deposit from the card linked to bank account you withdraw to - or in English, if someone did fraudulently deposit cash from a Starling card, they could only withdraw the cash to the same Starling bank account, rather than taking the cash elsewhere.

Starling support yesterday were very clear yesterday that this was a Mastercard limit, and promised to get me contact details for Mastercard so I could complain to them by last night. I’m still waiting, but will be following up with Mastercard as this is not acceptable.

I can understand that there may be significant hoops to jump through if I want to send £20k to Estonia, but sending money to Halifax should be at least possible, and ideally straightforward.

As I said before, it is nonsensical that a £5k transaction is disallowed but that 7 transactions totally £7k are allowed within a minute. This is just amateur hour fraud prevention that is a box ticking exercise that does nothing to protect me, Startling or Mastercard, and means I am not able to maximise my ISA allowance for this tax year, which is annoying as I’ve been diligently using a Starling Pot to save up.

Starling’s been operating for a year, and its current account switch service must mean that most people don’t have a backup bank account. Being able to deposit and withdraw money safely is pretty much the first and second requirement of a bank, and being told that Mastercard won’t let Starling give me more than £1k of my money is both frustrating and a little worrying. Challenger banks with a proper license should be treated as though they are as safe as traditional banks.


Yes, I agree.

Starling’s business strategy is to position themselves as new kids on the block, growing the business by attracting new customers, showcasing their ability to do things so much better than the tired old legacy banks. And that positioning includes making themselves appear as a real viable alternative to the old banks, with full banking services and full functionality.

Hence their correct advocacy of new customers to use the Current account switching service. Implying that customers will be able to do everything they could do with their old banks, but with new and improved features and a new banking interface.

It would be a real pity if Starling stumbled in this most basic of banking service. The ability of a customer to reasonably spend a substantial part of his/her funds by using a debit card.

I sincerely want Starling to do well and succeed. I believe in the model. But I can’t see myself remaining committed if the concept stagnates into a niche only, hobbyist type of institution, without the full functionality and flexibility of a real live banking institution.


with my Fidor UK account I can send £25K to Estonia to pay a chunk off my mortgage if I like before I hit their limit!


So if i understand this correctly the maximum withdrawal limit on your debit card is £1000, is that correct? If so its not really a problem for me but i cannot in all fairness advise friends to switch to starling from their current bank, which is what i have been doing. It would be a case of ‘hey switch to this new bank but don’t try spend more then £1000 on your card’ i realise Starling is a new concept but surely the basic priniple of any bank is the abilty to use YOUR own money as you wish.